The first public cannabis consumption establishment in Denver, allowing for vaping and edibles onsite, has been granted to The Coffee Joint, a local coffee shop.
Ever since Denver approved cannabis consumption establishments, excitement has been brewing about what they might look like. However, there have been many pitfalls on the road to establishing legal locations. Many Denver locals were hoping that bars and nightclubs could become cannabis clubs, a dream that was shot down once it was ruled out that none of the social use locations could serve alcohol. Dispensaries were also hoping to partially convert their facilities to include smoking lounges, but then it was announced that cannabis consumption establishments couldn’t sell cannabis. And a lot of businesses felt that the red tape of getting approval and paying for the fees associated with such a business wouldn’t even be worth it to run a club.
But one optimistic business remained in the race for the very first license and received it. Now, they are set up to be one of the only places in the entire city where public consumption of cannabis for tourists and locals alike is allowed. The Coffee Joint is run by Kirill Merkulov and Rita Tsalyuk, business owners who have a careful plan for success.
“The reason a lot of people didn’t apply for the license was because they couldn’t figure out how to make it profitable,” Tsalyuk explained to CULTURE. “But hopefully the dispensary next door will benefit, and we also wanted to use this opportunity because we got a lot of publicity [when we got approved]. We want to take it to another level, give back to the community.”
Tsalyuk’s husband and Merkulov also own the dispensary next door, so the hope is that folks will purchase cannabis, then head next door to vape. Another part of the plan is to offer cannabis classes and other educational events to benefit the community. Tsalyuk hopes this will help spread awareness about cannabis and shake negative stigmas, as well as increase business by drawing people to the site.
“There was a lot of paperwork and a lot of regulations, but once you are following the rules, the city was very friendly and explained what they wanted.”
“We will be emphasizing on the educational part of things to provide the consumer a better understanding of cannabis laws, and lots of classes, anywhere from the tasting classes, new research, etc.,” she explained. “We see there is a need for a big emphasis on that. But we will also have arts and music; it is going to be a high-class establishment.”
The Coffee Joint is poised to be a tourist attraction, a local venue, a meeting spot and a hub for cannabis information. Considering this, combined with the fact that the owners have a dispensary next door, the owners’ optimistic attitude about their success as the first cannabis consumption establishment makes sense.
“There was a lot of paperwork and a lot of regulations, but once you are following the rules, the city was very friendly and explained what they wanted,” Tsalyuk said. “For example, the health care department asked us to revise our health plan about 18 times, but it was not anything we couldn’t do; they were very helpful.”
Expectant tourists and local cannabis enthusiasts can hang out and vape at the The Coffee Joint very soon, according to Tsalyuk, hopefully in time for the 420 festivities.